The following is a special post from Brooke Rossi, our summer Marketing Intern. Brooke is starting her senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, majoring in Professional Communication and Emerging Media. Before returning to school, Brooke agreed to share her thoughts and impressions of associations as a soon-to-be graduate entering the professional world.
Before starting my summer Marketing Internship at Omnipress, I had very little knowledge of associations. My initial impression was that people typically joined them through their workplace with little enthusiasm and only for some level of prestige that comes with membership. I thought there were a limited variety of associations to join, focusing on broad disciplines, and didn’t realize how expansive (and specialized) the association universe is. Just four months ago, I wouldn’t have thought about associations and their impact on nearly every aspect of local and global societies. Without an understanding of the association world, I wasn’t even aware of the extent of educational and advancement opportunities available through education, credentialing and industry-related certifications. Real change happens because of associations, and I was completely blind to it!
WSAADTATYP? (What Should An Association Do to Appeal to Young Professionals?)
Now that I’ve had the chance to work in an organization that caters to associations, I have a greater appreciation and understanding of why they exist and why they’re so important. And I’m so glad I do! I am already looking into associations that touch my field of study. I wondered how many of my peers—students getting ready to enter the workforce—shared my same level of appreciation and understanding. I reached out to several friends to see what they knew, and whether associations were even on their radar. Most had given associations very little thought. Once I explained some of what I had learned, many of them indicated they would consider joining a professional association after graduation specifically for the continued education and networking opportunities. Associations: this means there is a huge opportunity to get in front of young professionals much, much earlier in the process, and to do a better job explaining what you do and you can offer us. You also need to help remove some of the inherent barriers that will prevent us from pulling the trigger. Here are just a few ideas for you to consider when looking for ways to engage more young professionals.
Set Up Early Outreach Programs
As I quickly learned from surveying my own peer group, many young professionals aren’t seeking out associations. To start enticing new professionals who do not yet know about you, visit them before they even graduate. Look for universities with corresponding degrees and create on-campus events and programming geared toward students entering the profession. Or, participate in existing events such as an on-site career fair. I know that any time I attend an event on campus related to my degree, it makes me more excited to get out and pursue a career, and knowing that I would already have a community to ease that transition would energize me more.
Create a Newbie-Friendly Environment
To recent graduates, joining a group of seasoned, industry veterans can be intimidating. Consider providing onboarding programs designed to increase our comfort level. This could mean an exclusive get-together for new members to make initial connections, or a mentorship program to connect a new member with a young professional ambassador—someone who has a few years of membership under their belt, but has been in our shoes recently enough and can show us the ropes.
Market to Our Thrifty Buying Habits
In order to appeal to young professionals entering the workforce, you will want to think about the average financial situation graduates face. With our search for work and a place to live, along with possible college debt, we often think there is nothing left in our wallets for a membership to your association. Throughout the years, I have noticed that my peers are easily deterred by price. We tend to be more frugal with our money, and are hesitant to make purchases that require a large upfront investment. Consider offering a special rate for new graduates, or give us a 90-day free trial for your organization. When we are ready to pull the trigger, provide ways to spread out the cost of membership over a longer period of time, such as monthly billing.
Help Us Grow and Be Adventurous
Opportunities for growth and adventure are valued by young professionals like me. Don’t be too subtle about your benefits of membership. In fact, flaunt them! But make sure they are tailored to where we are in our careers. Emphasize how your certifications and other recognition will help us “climb the ladder” or teach us how to become an effective leader. Or for more of a fun twist, tell us about the fun destinations you can help send us to. We are seeing our friends travel the world on social media, and we do not want to miss out. Giving us an outlet where we can both learn and explore is icing on the cake.
Invest in Your Content
Another thing you will want to think about when looking to gain young members is that we are accustomed to finding information quickly, with just one or two clicks. So having a strong online presence is crucial. But it also has to feature an exceptional user experience. First, you have to make sure I find you. When I do, feature content that immediately provides quality, relevant answers to my most pressing questions. Not sure where to start? Reach out and ask us! Use the channels we already frequent, such as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. We are more than happy to tell you what’s on our minds.
Young Professionals Need Your Association…We Just Don’t Know it Yet!
Associations provide the learning and development opportunities young professionals crave. But you can’t take for granted that we’ll figure this out immediately upon graduation. We first need to understand what associations are and why they exist before we even consider joining one. Then, we need to have a firm understanding of what your association can do for me, while making membership as easy as possible. Do whatever you can to remove the barriers to membership, whether real (financial) or perceived. If you make a genuine commitment to us, the good news is you’ll have gained life-long learners who would love to advocate on your behalf, further spreading your mission to professionals that don’t know they need you yet.
The annual conference is often the first, and sometimes only, in-person contact your members have with your organization. In addition to providing an exceptional overall attendee experience, it’s important that the educational sessions reflect your organization’s standards for quality, integrity and originality. Particularly if your association frequently competes for members’ attention with less discerning free or low-cost resources found through an internet search.
Some organizations have modified their call for abstracts process to ensure submissions are of the highest quality, and to help weed out those that aren’t. Here are a few examples:
Charge a submission fee
While submission fees can help generate some added revenue for the conference, fees are usually modest enough to have little impact on overall revenue. Many organizations use it simply to discourage submissions from those who are simply “phishing” for any available opportunity. Some find that it also encourages more thoughtful, thorough and complete submissions from even the most legitimate authors.
Limit per-author submissions
Some planners have instituted a limit on the total number of abstracts one author can submit, ensuring they present only their best work for consideration. Others set limits within their abstract management system that prevents a speaker from starting a new submission until their previous submission is complete.
Use plagiarism detection tools
The internet has made it easier to access, and in some cases “borrow” previously published work. As a result, more and more organizations are turning to plagiarism detection tools such as iThenticate as part of their submission review process. Some abstract management systems (such as CATALYST) can integrate directly with iThenticate, using essentially a one-click process to upload abstracts and papers to their database from within the submission form. Results are returned to the conference planner within minutes.
Top-notch event content is one the most important elements your conference can provide. Making some simple changes to your abstract submission process can help ensure you receive the high-quality materials that reflect your organization’s reputation. Not only will great content help generate interest in your next event, but over the long term, it will continue to reinforce your position as the go-to resource for your industry.
Your attendees are living in a mobile world, with nearly 80% of all Americans owning a smartphone. Of course, it would make sense for your conference to be mobile as well. Increasingly, attendees are becoming conditioned to using an app to access content and information while on-site. But does an app alone provide the greatest value? Not always.
Conference apps bring many benefits to the table, including a personal itinerary for the annual meeting and tools for engagement, but an app might fall short when meeting all the digital needs of your attendees. In addition to a conference app, consider hosting your conference materials on a dedicated website that can be accessed by smartphones, laptops and other devices.
Here are five reasons to pair your mobile app with online conference materials for your event.
1. Superior Search
Online conference materials let your attendees utilize advanced search tools superior to those available on a mobile app. Having options like full-text and faceted search makes a big difference when attendees must search through numerous technical papers and presentations.
2. Marketing and Promotion
To access content in the app, an attendee has to already be registered for the conference. But what about those that haven’t registered yet? Providing access to search engine-accessible online conference materials ahead of the meeting allows prospective attendees to gain a better understanding of the value of the event, ultimately driving registration for those who may still be “on the fence.”
3. Post-Meeting Access
Mobile apps provide the most value during the conference. Many attendees won’t use it at all after they plane home, although the content is still relevant and worth a second look. Having the ability to revisit materials on a computer when back in the office is often easier and preferred, and helps increase retention of the material.
4. Better Reading Experience
Close reading and deep comprehension are challenging when using a small screen. This is why many attendees choose to pore over new research on a full screen, rather than using an app, and where online conference materials have an advantage.
5. Non-Dues Revenue
As you build your association’s online conference content archive, you can plan to charge access for past years, generating non-dues revenue for your organization. This option is made even easier with the ability to restrict access to some or all of your online content. You can select who gets to see what content from recent or past events.
Even if you have a mobile app, supplement it through online conference materials. Having more avenues to deliver quality conference content to your attendees is far better than having too few. Each content format provides its own unique set of benefits to both attendees and your association, so it’s worth investing additional time and effort to select the ones that work best for your event.
Dan Loomis: “Within your own association, do you ever wonder if your conference team and your continuing education team have similar challenges? We looked at two industry reports and we found some interesting trends.
“What we found interesting is across conference and training, there’s challenges around managing content changes and how to deliver the mix of content that needs to be delivered for the learner. It’s not surprising that that’s a focus, because it actually helps with the strategic focus and the relevancy of an association. But, what I find interesting looking at these reports side-by-side, there’s a lot of associations that are still challenged with managing costs, deciding what quantities to produce and even order fulfillment and shipping.
“If you think about these things that are consuming their time and deciding what quantities to produce is taking up about 30% of their time, where they would prefer to spend 0% on that type of task.
“So, what if you outsourced to a third-party that could handle that stuff and still support your brand and all the things you would like to represent when that material goes out, and you could put that time towards some of those higher end, higher level strategic objectives of really focusing on the mix of the formats and managing those content changes.
“So, like we say in life, it’s not always about the big changes, it’s about the little changes and maybe it’s time we apply that to our own associations.
“Here’s a suggestion: Grab some members from your conference team, grab a few from your continuing education, have a little lunch and learn, do a little team bonding. It will be interesting to see what kind of common challenges they have in your association and see what kind of solutions they can come up with.”
How you deliver conference content to your attendees is changing. Thanks to on-demand services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, the idea of omnipresent content—content that is available whenever, wherever, and in the format that is most convenient—is now the expectation. Associations typically offer some form of digital access to event materials, but the idea of providing a single digital format is no longer enough to provide attendees with the user experience they expect.
Feedback from attendees is prompting associations to look for ways to meet these new expectations. Rather than choosing one format, offer your attendees access to a variety of digital content to create a seamless, accessible experience that can heighten the educational value of your event.
Different digital format provide different benefits
It’s common for conference professionals to assume all digital conference products provide the same features, benefits and experiences. In reality, online conference proceedings, mobile apps and USB drives each bring their own unique set of benefits to your conference attendees.
Online Conference Proceedings
Online conference proceedings make conference materials accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Attendees can easily search by session, track and speaker to select the material that interests them prior to the conference.
With online conference proceedings, you can offer a preview of your event’s sessions. These previews can help people decide whether or not they want to attend your conference based on tangible examples of the information you provide. And, by hosting all of these items in one central location, you create a great online resource for attendees to return to after the conference has ended.
A conference app is best for portability and on-site information. Your conference attendees can use your mobile app to navigate around the conference using GPS technology, maps and can build their own personal schedule that fits right into their pocket.
Apps also help drive engagement during your conference. Features like live polling, social timelines and direct messaging between attendees and speakers facilitate one of the main reasons your attendees come to your conference year after year: networking.
Relying on the venue’s WiFi is never a good idea, which is why USB drives are great for storing conference materials. The devices are small and easy to carry, especially when they are stored in unique shapes or useful objects like pens and keychains.
One of the biggest perks of USBs is that they make it convenient to access information. While web addresses might be easily forgotten, a physical keychain or item on your attendee’s desk at work will remind them of your association, conference and the information they learned from you.
Why you need a comprehensive approach
Since each digital format has its own set of unique benefits, using multiple options at your event will give attendees the most flexibility in how they engage with your materials. Don’t think of them as a replacement for each other, but rather think about how each option fills a different role in creating a seamless educational experience.
Here are a few examples to illustrate why your conference should offer a comprehensive mix of digital content formats.
John is interested in attending your conference and goes online to find example conference materials to get a better idea of what your association offers. When he sees your conference proceeding sneak peeks, he registers and uses the online conference proceedings to figure out which sessions he wants to attend. When the day of the conference arrives, John wants to reference the conference materials, but cannot access the venue’s WiFi. Fortunately, he can still pull up materials using the USB keychain you provided at check-in.
Mary likes to be able to reference conference materials during break-out sessions, but does not want to be weighed down by her laptop all day during your event. Instead, she accesses the conference materials available through your mobile app. During breaks, she also uses the app to post about her experiences on the social timeline and sends a question to a speaker she didn’t get the opportunity to speak with. After the conference is over, Mary deletes the app to free up space on her phone, but is able to log onto your online conference library to reinforce the information she learned at the event.
Susan is traveling from out of state to your conference and is uneasy about being in a new city. Fortunately, she has downloaded your mobile app, which provides her with GPS directions to the event location and helps her navigate the city during lunch and breaks. However, she finds it difficult to find the exact conference paper she’s looking for on her small phone screen, so she pulls out her laptop and uses the USB your association provided to access and search the materials to find the paper she is looking for.
Give your attendees the format freedom they desire
Providing content in multiple formats can be a challenge if you don’t have a strategy for managing them. One common pitfall is keeping data updated and consistent in multiple places as your content changes. The best way to avoid a data gap is to create a single source of record that is always up to date.
Updating content in multiple places and coordinating with multiple vendors is another scenario that can make managing multiple formats difficult, so consider working with a single vendor that offers all the formats you need.
By offering digital content in a variety of formats you’ll give your attendees the freedom to access materials whenever and wherever they want. All of the digital formats work together to increase the educational value of your event and create a top-notch conference experience.
This year’s State of the Conference Industry Report makes clear that association professionals are facing new challenges as they strive to meet their attendees’ changing expectations.
Between the growing number of formats associations use to deliver content, the variety of initiatives designed to increase attendee engagement, and the wide-ranging expectations of today’s attendees, managing conference content is becoming an increasingly difficult task.
Take a look at the infographic below to see some of the highlights from the report. For a more complete view of how association professionals are adapting to the realities of omnipresent content, be sure to download the full report.
Read the full report to learn how other associations use content to engage attendees before, during and after their events.
There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes at Omnipress!
I wanted to use this month’s post to share some of the exciting things our customers can expect from us in 2018. You can watch the video or continue reading below.
The conference-related initiatives we are focusing on this year build on the success we’ve had launching our newest abstract management system, CATALYST. Customer reaction to CATALYST has been fantastic and there has been a lot of positive feedback on the flexibility of the system.
While CATALYST remains an efficient way for event professionals to collect and manage their conference content, we also have some new initiatives underway that will make it easier than ever to get that content into attendees’ hands.
One clear message we’ve heard from talking with our customers is that there is no single format that meets the needs of all attendees. As a result of these conversations, we’re investing in the tools and processes that will help meeting planners create—and manage—a consistent content experience for all attendees, whether they prefer a printed program book, mobile app or online and offline access to digital materials.
Omnipress consists of more than our products, however. I am privileged to lead an amazing team that is truly dedicated to seeing our customers succeed. As our customer roster continues to grow in 2018, we’ll be making investments in our staff and the tools they rely on, to make sure we deliver the outstanding customer support our clients expect from us. We know a lot of our customers think of us as an extension of their staff, and that is a compliment we want to continue to hear throughout 2018, and beyond.
Jonny Popp – Omnipress General Manager:
“2018 is going to be a very exciting year at Omnipress!
“Back in 2016, we launched our new online abstract management system, CATALYST. The first time a meeting planner sees CATALYST, a lot of time their first reaction is how clean, how modern that the interface looks. After that though, they start to realize how flexible the system can be and how many different things it can collect and different ways it can be configured, to really fit their needs.
“As we move through 2018, you can expect to see a lot of new and exciting things from Omnipress.
“We have been investing in our other tools, we’ve been investing in our people and our processes. Because as good as technology is, and as much as technology makes a difference, it’s really the people that are behind it, they are supporting you and what you are trying to do, that really makes the difference.
“We know that planning a meeting is hard and there’s a lot of work that goes into it and a lot of steps along the way, and we want to make sure that our tools and processes are helping you along the way.”
Developing a plan to promote your event is a critical part of conference planning. Marketing can be expensive and time-consuming, and consumers are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising. This is where content marketing comes into play.
Content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract and engage a target audience. This method goes hand-in-hand with your goal as an association: to educate industry professionals and association members.
Luckily, as an event planner, you have a secret weapon: you sit on a goldmine of valuable information. This allows you to:
Connect with professionals looking for industry-specific information
Remind members of the value your association provides year-round
Build awareness of your conference and other events
Extend the life of the materials you work hard to collect
These shiny knowledge-nuggets are not something you have to go mining for; they are already at your fingertips.
Why Content Marketing Works for Associations
Content marketing has become one of the most popular ways for organizations to promote themselves online. Associations have some unique advantages when it comes to content marketing:
You have existing material. The biggest barrier to content marketing is creating new material. Your existing library of content gives you a head start.
Your review process provides authority. You can be confident that your peer-reviewed materials are insightful. This can be especially handy if you are not a subject matter expert.
You have access to the latest thinking. Your conference is an industry leader in providing timely, relevant information, allowing you to continue your role as a thought leader throughout the year.
You get feedback from the industry. Your conference feedback can provide insight into which topics are most in-demand. Think of this as “focus group” input on the material in your collection.
Reusing your existing content allows you to give your content a second life and extend its use beyond your conference. Using actual event content gives potential attendees a glimpse of the kinds of material at your conference so they can see for themselves why yours is a “can’t miss” event.
Develop a Content Marketing Plan
The first step in launching a content marketing campaign is assessing your existing materials. Determine what kind of content you have available and where it will be located. Your association’s website may seem like a good idea at first, but as time goes on, content can get lost or buried as the site gets updated. It’s best to create a standalone digital conference library. This will give visitors an idea of the broad range of information they can rely on your conference for.
It’s also important to determine a schedule that you will be able to follow. Be realistic. Will you be able to consistently post two pieces of content each week? Or is one piece of content every two weeks more likely? The rate that you choose is less important than your ability to stay on schedule. Readers stay engaged with a blog or social media profile that is updated on a regular basis.
Now that you’ve identified the most relevant materials and decided on how much time you can devote to sharing content online, you’ll need to consider the best ways your association can reach its followers. How can you make your content clickable? One way to effectively grab your readers’ attention is by using images.
Create Images for Social Media
The web is becoming an increasingly visual medium. Adding visual elements to your posts is one of the most effective ways you can increase the impact of your messaging. In fact, posts that include images see 650% more engagement than posts with just text alone.
Here are three conference-specific scenarios where visuals would be an effective way to promote your event. For each scenario, there is an example of an online tool well-suited for creating attention-grabbing artwork with minimal effort.
Scenario #1 – Promote a session by a prominent speaker
The speakers at your conference are a major factor in drawing in attendees each year, so it should be no surprise that speakers make for effective promotional content.
Imagine you’ve just finished your speaker selection process and are ready to announce the keynote speaker. You could certainly type out a post listing their names and the topics they will be discussing (Borrrrrr-ingggg!). A much more engaging approach is to present the same information with a visual design to it.
Pikiz is an image creator that is perfect for creating simple images that include text. Upload your own background image or choose from the images they have available. Then, double-click on the text box to add a customized message. Another great feature is that each social network has its own preset. This makes it super simple to post great-looking images to your favorite site.
Scenario #2 – Present research findings as an infographic
A presentation from last year’s conference coincides with some hot new research that is making the rounds. You know this is a great opportunity to join the conversation and promote your event. Since the presentation is available in your digital content library, it’s ready for people to see. But how do you make sure your post stands out from the crowd of others? Use the findings from the presentation and display it as an infographic!
Creating an infographic is a simple three-step process with infogr.am. Choose a design template, enter your data into their spreadsheet viewer and click share. That’s it! The program will create a shareable link to the social media site of your choice. You can also upload your own images or choose different fonts if you want a more customized design.
Scenario #3 – Call for award nominations using your own branded graphic
Part of your annual pre-event strategy is to ask for award nominations. You could do what you’ve always done: copy and paste the same text on the same social media networks and get the same results. Or, you can take it to the next level by creating a completely custom design (no designer needed)!
Canva is like working with a design pro that has dozens of designs ready for you to choose from (but doesn’t charge by the hour). Once you log in to Canva, you’ll see dozens of customizable templates sorted by format. Whether you are looking to create an image for social media, your blog or a poster, Canva has a file ready for you to start designing with. It’s also flexible enough to work with your existing elements. Just add your association logo, a picture of the award and text asking for nominations. You then have the option to share online or download.
Catch Their Eye
A well-designed image is critical in catching the attention of busy professionals, so having a visual presence online these days is essential. Presenting your existing content visually is a great way to keep your event in front of the attendees you want to attract.
Thankfully, the web is full of fast and intuitive ways to create custom graphics. With little effort, you can create designs that convey your message in an interesting and engaging way, and most importantly, in a way your audience enjoys seeing.
The next step is sharing those images and other content on platforms that will help you build and connect with your audience.
Promote Your Event on Social Media
Social media platforms are great hosts for content marketing pieces, particularly visuals. The best part about social media is that it’s not only for sharing content—it’s also great for building communities of like-minded people, just like your association! Each platform has its own strengths, so it’s important to assess these and plan content accordingly when designing a content marketing strategy. Below are a few of the most popular social media platforms to get you started.
Another platform that’s useful for engaging members is Instagram, a photo and video-sharing social media app. Instagram is great for sharing eye-catching graphics and photos to promote your event and attract potential attendees. Users can accompany their photos with captions and hashtags, which help the posts be seen by non-followers.
Instagram is popular with your youngest members, making it the ideal platform for appealing to Millennials and Generation Z. By sharing posts on Instagram, you have a much higher chance of attracting and engaging a younger demographic to your conferences than on other platforms like Facebook. The most important aspect to Instagram is to make sure your posts are visually appealing and include appropriate hashtags to make sure they are seen.
Twitter can be a fantastic tool for event professionals. Its design works well for promoting a conference or creating year-round awareness of your association. Being active on Twitter lets you connect with industry thought-leaders and attendees on a platform that they prefer.
Using original and industry hashtags, retweeting interesting industry sources and sharing quotes and links to your association’s content can transform your Twitter feed into a hub of relevant, valuable industry information. This way, you can keep current members engaged while attracting future members from other parts of the industry.
Twitter is also a great place for personal engagement with industry experts, your conference speakers and your members. Mention speakers in tweets; follow and retweet thought leaders; and like, retweet and reply to your follower’s tweets to create a sense of community while spreading the word about your event.
To reach younger members, try using Snapchat to promote your next conference. Snapchat is a particularly useful social media platform during your event, but can also be used before the conference to build anticipation. Snapchats stories, which last for 24 hours, allow you to share behind-the-scenes photos and videos of event set-up. Your speakers can also “take over” your stories to share some insider information about their presentations or industry topics.
A branded Geofilter can be designed specifically for your event and applied the day of the conference, so your attendees can use it when sending snapchats to their friends or story throughout the day. Not only will the Geofilter feel exclusive due to its limited availability, helping engage your attendees, but it can help spread the word about your association.
Facebook is one of the most-used social media platforms across all age groups, which makes it the perfect place to provide event information and promote the sharing of your conference. Create a Facebook Page for your association where you can post conference information and other content.
You can also create a Facebook Event for your conference and invite current members, encouraging them to invite people who may be interested, as well. This is a free and easy way to spread the word and potentially reach new members through current advocates of your association.
Discover Your Audience’s Interests
Now you know that using conference content as a marketing tool is a great way for your audience to learn about your event and the value it provides.
But did you know that it can also be a great way for you to learn about your audience?
By analyzing the data from your content marketing posts, you can learn a number of important things about your audience. First, you can see what parts of the world your visitors come from; this can help you find speakers from those particular regions to boost attendance at your annual event. You can also identify which sites or platforms best connect you with your members, helping you tune your messages on the most critical platforms moving forward.
Most importantly, you’ll be able to identify which types of content your visitors prefer. This feedback can guide future conference planning as well as future content marketing efforts to best connect you with your audience.
Content marketing can also inform you about your own content. By recognizing what messaging is most effective with your audience, you will be better prepared for conference promotion techniques. Additionally, analytics can teach you which topics generate the most interest among your followers; consider including these topics in your next conference event.
Use the information you gain from your content marketing plan to inform future events, connect with key members and create a more successful content marketing strategy overall.
Make Your Content Work Year-Round
The whole point of content marketing is to show your followers you have value to offer with tangible pieces of content you’ve worked hard to collect. Choose the platforms that best connect with your audience and help your association achieve goals, whether that includes your website, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or one of the many others available online. Most of the content you share can be used across multiple platforms, giving you lots of opportunities to reach new people and prove the value of your event all year long.
For the fourth year in a row, Omnipress has tracked the evolution of conference content and the role it plays at an association’s annual event. This year’s Conference Industry Report indicates that while educational content remains a significant source of value that associations provide, association professionals are facing new challenges as they strive to meet attendees’ changing expectations.
To understand how associations are currently using their conference content, we conducted an online survey of 143 association professionals, many of whom are directly responsible for conference planning.
Download the report to learn:
How are associations using content to engage members and increase conference attendance?
How are associations deciding which formats to offer at their events?
Which types of content are associations currently providing at their conference?
Are there common challenges that all associations face delivering their conference content?
Takeaway #1: The annual conference remains a central part of the association’s member growth strategy.
With most associations reporting flat membership growth in 2017, the ability to engage and retain existing members is critical. The annual conference provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate the association’s value, and increasing attendance continues to be the number one priority for associations.
Respondents provided some specific areas of focus to increase attendance at their 2018 events:
Encourage peer to peer engagement
Increase conference quality
Update technologies to increase engagement
Create more networking opportunities
The opportunity for member engagement extends beyond attending the conference. Associations can provide options for members to participate in other meaningful ways by including an open call for their event. Soliciting presentations from within the association allows the organization to recognize the contributions that members are making in their industry and advance their careers.
Read the full report to learn how other associations use content to engage attendees before, during and after their events.
The chairs are folded. The hum of the fluorescent lights has come to a halt. Attendees, sponsors and speakers have gone back to their associations and offices. And just like that, your conference is over.
Nothing remains of the conference which took so long to prepare for…except all of the content you spent months collecting!
Are you missing an opportunity here?
What is your association doing with your valuable conference materials after an event? Many organizations fail to repurpose event content and thus, miss a major opportunity to keep the event at the forefront of attendees’ minds.
Don’t let your content fall to the side. Here are four creative ways you can share conference materials AFTER the event.
House material on a searchable website
In addition to handing out conference materials to each attendee at the event, it’s good practice to upload the materials online where all attendees can access it after the fact. Putting your content online allows attendees easy access to whatever materials you’d like to share, whether that’s this year’s materials or all event materials from the past.
Sharing conference materials online also increases the chances of someone discovering your association. Google searches can pull up your content, meaning more people will have the ability to find out about your organization. Even if your content is gated with a password, potential members and attendees looking for industry-specific information will come to know that your association is the place to look and may even join to gain access to it.
Use content to promote your conference on social media
Many of your attendees, speakers and potential members are active on social media, providing you with easy-to-use, free platforms to keep them engaged. The possibilities for sharing conference content on social media are nearly endless; you can summarize key points or interesting facts, provide eye-catching graphics and share links to content hosted online to remind attendees of your content and keep them interested.
If your association hosts a blog, it can be the perfect place to repurpose event content and keep the conversation going. Blogs can easily be used to post transcripts, video or audio of the conference, or even just takeaway points from the speakers. Blogging is great for marketing your event, as well. Those who didn’t attend can read about what happened to give them some insight on what they missed.
The content doesn’t just have to come from you, either. Invite industry experts to write a wrap-up of the event or to provide further information about a topic that they discussed.
Create a webinar based on popular themes from the event
A webinar or web series is a way to provide another layer of depth to a particular topic of interest from the event. Use feedback from event surveys to find out what topics your attendees were really interested in and create a webinar about how this topic applies to a current event in your industry or deep-dive into one specific aspect of the topic.
This is also a great way to expand your event’s reach. Your association can decide to offer the webinar or web series to a larger group than those who attended your event, meaning non-attendees can access it and hopefully become interested enough to attend next year.
Sharing conference materials extends your event
You spend months collecting and reviewing content to distribute at your annual event, but it doesn’t have to end once your conference does. Avoid missing an opportunity for engagement by repurposing your event content and sharing it with attendees and non-attendees alike.
Your conference attendees receive a lot of information during your annual event—so much so that it may be daunting to try to take notes or remember it all. But when you give your attendees a USB drive loaded with all of the content from your conference, you’re giving them an easy-to-use way to revisit what they learned and keep your association top of mind.
There are so many reasons why associations continue to hand out USBs at conferences, it’s as easy as A-B-C!
A – Access to Content: Attendees come to your conference to learn, but they might not be able to remember everything they’re presented with. USBs give them access to your conference content during and after the event so they can revisit it as often as they’d like.
B – Banner Ads: By creating an offline site on your conference USB drive, you can showcase banner ads to promote other events or continuing education programs your association members might be interested in.
C – Custom Options: Your USB drive can be customized for your needs. Choose specific colors, shapes and forms, such as a pen or business card USB.
D – Diverse Documents: You aren’t restricted to only offering one type of file on your USB. Your drive can hold everything from abstracts to program content PDFs and media files.
E – Engagement: Because the USB holds all of your content, your attendees will be able to routinely engage with and revisit it again and again.
F – Full-Text Search: A full-text search option allows users to easily find the content that matters to them by searching through the entire document text.
G – Giveaway Item: Everyone likes getting freebies. USBs at conferences are a great functional giveaway item that your members can continue to use after your event.
H – Hierarchy: Your conference content can be grouped in many different ways to allow your attendees to find it more easily. Organize content by track, session or author.
I – Interactive: USBs are the perfect way to let attendees search your content and explore what is most interesting to them.
J – Justification: If you’re still on the fence about USBs, remember that your attendees value your association for your content, and a USB is giving them continued access to it. You can also look for sponsors to help defray the costs.
K – Keywords: Keywords are an important way that attendees will search for content after the event, and full-text search helps them find the content most relevant to what they need.
L – Logos: The exterior of the USB drive can show your association or event’s logo to remind your attendees of your organization. And, banner ads and logos on the offline site can also be branded to match your association.
M – Memorable: A USB isn’t something attendees will just throw away after your event is over. They’ll hold onto it because of its functionality, then remember who gave it to them because of the branding.
N – Navigation: Setting your USB up like an offline website provides intuitive navigation that makes it easy for attendees to find what they’re looking for quickly.
O – Offline: Your attendees won’t need an internet connection to access your content, which comes in handy since event venue wifi is rarely reliable. They’ll be able to find what they need on-the-go, no matter what.
P – Power + USB: The newest addition to the Omnipress USB family is a combination USB and mobile device charger that can charge attendees’ phones and other devices. A combination that is perfect for those jam-packed conference sessions!
Q – Quickly Find Content: An easy-to-use interface, hierarchical content and full-text search make finding your content quick and easy.
R – Reusable: Your attendees can use your USB giveaway after the event to store their personal or professional data, making it a long-lasting gift. And, your branding will be there to remind them of your association every time they use it.
S – Sponsorship Opportunity: Giving away USBs at conferences can provide you with an opportunity to generate revenue for your association through sponsorships. Put your sponsor’s’ name or logo on the USB device or a banner ad. They’ll love the ability to get exposure to a defined audience on a physical product.
T – Take Anywhere: You won’t find another giveaway item as functional, small and portable as USB drives are. Your attendees can easily take your USB drive with them wherever they go!
U – User-friendly: Navigating technology can sometimes be tough, but your attendees will appreciate the clean, easy-to-use interface and quick search options that help them find what they need.
V – Video: Your conference USB can even hold videos if you’d like to add recordings of past sessions, extra content or even a fun thank you video!
W – Web-like Experience:You can set your USB up to look similar to an online web page. Your attendees with appreciate the familiar web experience without needing an internet connection.
X – XL for All Your Content: If you have a lot of content to store, there’s no need to fret! USBs come in many sizes and offer as much storage as you need.
Y – Your Attendees Love Them: There’s a reason so many associations giveaway USBs at conferences: their attendees love them, and so will yours!
Z – Zilch: The number of reasons not to offer your content on USB!
Now that you have 26 new reasons to give USB drives to the attendees at your next conference, why don’t you see what’s so great about them yourself? Request a sample Power + USB drive from Omnipress and be one of the first to test it out.
We’ve heard from organizations that increasing enrollment in their continuing education courses can be challenging, time-consuming and expensive. Organizations sit on a goldmine of useful educational materials and resources, but might not know how to use them to their benefit.
Since getting new members to enroll in your courses is so important to your organization, you need a way to expand your reach and keep learners interested in your training courses year-round.
That’s why we’ve created a guide to help you use the educational materials you already have and share them on social media.
How to transform existing educational content into shareable information
Which visual tools you can use to create eye-catching promotional graphics
How Twitter can help you build a community of learners
How to promote your courses as events on Facebook
How LinkedIn can help you expand your reach to users outside of your existing network
Using free social media tools to share your content is a great way to start using your educational materials to their full potential. If you’d like to learn how social media can help your organization engage new and existing learners, download our free whitepaper!